San Francisco -- Online retail behemoth Amazon.com is exploring to become a bigger player into the sprawling online daily deals market with the launch of a website that offers large discounts on local goods and services has expanded its daily-deal offerings to Chicago, the home turf of daily-deal giant Groupon Inc.
Two months ago, the online retail giant has taken Amazon Local into 14 markets, which unveiled its Daily Deals offering in Boise, Idaho. However, the offering is captivating some attention in the press now because it has also expanded into Chicago.
ince then, the global retailer has expanded it to include a handful of regions in California, Florida and Washington. The other markets are: the Washington communities of Seattle, Bellevue/Eastside, Tacoma, and Snohomish County; the California markets of Inland Empire, Long Beach, Los Angeles, North Orange County, San Fernando Valley, Westside/South Bay, and San Gabriel Valley; Palm Beach, FL, and Boise, ID.
Interestingly, the Seattle-based company has organized a dedicated 24/7 customer service line for Amazon Local. The company is using sales froce from Living Social, which it partly owns, to currently handle daily-deal sales but the company said it has hired staffers for its own daily-deals sales team.
According to the Wall Street Journal reports: “At present, sales people from LivingSocial -- a Groupon rival in which Amazon has an investment -- are inviting the merchants for the Amazon local-deals offering. But Amazon said it has hired its own sales team for a standalone daily-deals offering planned for the latter part of this year.”
Its B2B sales force will certainly run into a bevy of competitors that are already pounding businesses with calls--firms such as Groupon, LivingSocial, Google Offers, Facebook Deals, BuyWithMe, Scoutmob, and American Express, to name a few and others. It has become fair to ask: How many more sales calls from daily deals companies can local merchants handle?
According to Damir Kamber, manager of Baroni Italian in Atlanta, the calls are pouring in “nonstop.”
“It is like a full-time job now,” Kamber said in a statement. “I have heard from Groupon and a bunch of other sites that I have never heard of.”
Amazon is also quoted as saying: “Customers are already familiar and trust Amazon.com for their online purchases, and now with Amazon Local, they can also find great deals right in their own city. AmazonLocal is a great way for residents of the Windy City to enjoy the restaurants, spas, and activities in their backyard.”
Deals available Tuesday contained a month of unlimited fitness boot camp for $49 -- an 80% discount. Also available was either 10 admissions to a roller rink or four passes plus skate rentals and drinks for $20 -- a 50% discount.
Amazon already has an investment LivingSocial. Apart from its investment in LivingSocial, Amazon also operates MyHabit.com, a site it launched earlier this year which offers a daily discounted luxury item. And because Chicago would be Groupon's home turf, and the common belief is that direct competition from a powerhouse and trusted brand such as Amazon could be a major thorn in the company's side.
Nevertheless, a $20-for-$10 offer on Amazon.com back in January was the splashiest promotion LivingSocial had distributed until that date.